The Usefulness of Things
Mary Kay Downtown Brown lip shade
for whiter teeth;
Wet n’ Wild lip gloss
for wet, Foxy News lips.
for when you have
fine & frizzy
white girl hair.
for when you need a friend
who’ll just listen
(& maybe an alibi).
for working quadratics,
& reworking quadratics—
a representation of my memory,
which is continuously being erased,
& recorded over
with solvable problems
I don’t quite understand.
Mr. Reed and Miss Wright
He loved the truth, so
he wrote hard news;
she loved the analysis of truth, so
she wrote features.
He wrote hard news
because he was a reporter;
she wrote features
because she was a writer.
Because he was a reporter,
he was hated for his facts;
because she was a writer,
she was loved for her stories.
David & I were getting baptized with the water,
Mother with the Spirit;
Adonis, his goddess,
Though I was calm as a summer day on Hoggshead Beach,
inside, I was saying good-bye to the old me,
for baptism was a drowning, an exorcism.
I had honored my father & mother all my life,
if not my Heavenly parents.
In my chastity by default,
did I honor them.
Elder Roberts would baptize me,
for I’d chosen him;
the day would come
when I would nullify my worthiness to be
the bearer of future tithe-payers.
Mother, rejecting the plain faith of her fathers,
of her childhood, & youngest child,
embraced the fancy religion of her new ward family.
For what is broken
can be mended,
but what is shattered,
would be like trying to gather
all the tar balls from Pensacola Bay;
a pitcher can hold,
a garment can hold together,
but with pieces missing,
too much is revealed,
for the water sloshes,
spilling out what was left
that was still good.
She blurred him from every record,
burned every photograph,
the ink dripping off the page,
mixing with the ashes at her feet,
but it wasn’t till he returned to the earth
in a pile of dust,
that she was able to breathe it all back in.
One man discusses climate change,
the other, pro-life policies.
Two futures—imminent & distant—
the former, having affected his ancestors,
the latter, his descendants.
It was a book of drunken incest,
& admonitions for slaves
to obey their cruel taskmasters.
There was the genocide of children–
rainbow promises that never again
would God destroy the earth with a flood,
with every other thing.
It was the story of a jealous God,
a God who played favorites,
but a God who sent His Son–
a better version of Himself.
For here lies the Morgan family memorial–
who lived together by choice,
who died together from having that choice
& whose ashes,
in the same vessel,
death imitating itself.
When they lost their wealth,
they softened their conservative values,
for to accept help long enough
was more important than making
what was already hard,
harder than it had to be.
Years ago, I remember watching the music video of Martina McBride’s “Independence Day.” It’s a great song (even though Sean Hannity uses it for his radio show/talking points monologue).
As a girl, I thought the song was simply about the Fourth of July, just as I thought “Rocky Mountain High” by John Denver was about a high school.
Ah, the innocence of children.
She leaned on him,
but when he fell,
she found that she was
sure of herself in every way
except her decision
to pick the right one
a second time.
She was a goddess of the Domestic Arts,
a knitter of broken hearts,
a cooker of comfort foods,
a cleaner of sacred spaces,
a maker of beds—a woman who had chosen that path
because it was the only one her husband showed her.
She quit her family, choosing her lover & his children,
but found herself haunted by the husband & daughter she’d left behind.
When her lover died & she returned years later,
she saw she’d built her happiness on their unhappiness.
She ended a marriage to begin a relationship
that would never end in wedlock,
hoping her new love would make
her husband’s same mistake.
She married the man of her recurring dreams,
the man of one woman’s single nightmare,
only to find when she slept,
he became more real.
She went to rehab to overcome her alcoholism,
only to find the man addicted to pornography
who became addicted to her.